The Violin Channel recently caught up with violinists, and PartPlay founders Philip Aird and Steve Bingham to discuss their revolutionary new chamber music companion.
In a VC-exclusive blog, Philip and Steve talk us through their new web platform that allows musicians at home to rehearse chamber music parts online alongside professional musicians.
"As any musician will tell you, the creative process doesn’t just happen when you are playing but continues during coffee breaks. Last year during a recording session, Steve and I were queuing for caffeine and chatting about the lack of high quality online resources for chamber music. I had been thinking about this problem for at least 10 years and wondered if together we could do something about it. This impromptu conversation gave birth to a flow of ideas and questions that became the sole focus of our attention for the following 12 months.
We asked ourselves, what if you could play along with professional musicians, view them from different camera angles - move and breath with them, imitate them, and compare your technique to theirs? Can we mute, solo or loop any combination of instruments in real-time and slow the part down for tricky passagework? Should we ask performers to talk about their own individual part and perhaps provide commentary and analysis for the work? Can we create something that would appeal to musicians of all ages and abilities? Would professional quartets want to record for us and how much was it all going to cost?
That’s how the ideas started and PartPlay was born! It’s also when the enormity of the challenge set in.
We knew the success of the project was dependent on the development of sophisticated technology and production techniques. After several months of research we felt confident enough to pitch our idea to investors – all of whom said yes! In addition, the fantastic folk at Thomastik-Infeld agreed to sponsor a free section for all beginner students and adult learners.
The musicians who record for PartPlay are from established international chamber music ensembles, and recognized for their teaching expertise at leading colleges and conservatoires in the UK. Either Steve or I personally direct and produce every recording session from our studio in Cambridge where we have a team of highly experienced technicians and Mark Fawcett, our wonderful recording engineer. Steve is a genius at post-production and works tirelessly to expand our library, releasing new music every week.
We know nothing will ever better the enjoyment of playing chamber music together, but sometimes that’s just not possible and I think using PartPlay provides a real alternative. The unique interface allows for careful practice and analysis of a piece, or simply working your way through the catalogue, playing for fun. From an educational point of view, parents and string teachers have found students love the excitement of using the technology, and as one teacher fed back to us “it’s a must have in my weaponry as a teacher – and a reminder that most innovation comes from curiosity, not pedantry!” In schools and higher education institutions PartPlay is used for composition analysis, repertoire discovery and technique discussion. I myself simply love to sit down at home, with a glass of wine and play great chamber music with great musicians.
The past 12 months have been quite an adventure but we are incredibly proud of what we have achieved and are really enjoying work on our next phase of development.
-Phil & Steve"
You can trial PlayPart for free now, at: partplay.co.uk